Monthly Archives: May 2011

Things that made me happy this weekend

Lazy mornings that allow for breakfasts like this. Homemade blackberry waffles with yogurt and fruit on top.



Hot summer spring days that make a root beer float an acceptable treat. Smile


3 consecutive days of running. More to come on the book behind the Garmin tomorrow.


A dog that always makes me laugh. Her water bowl was about 20 feet away. I guess the fountain was more intriguing.


A man and his lawn mower. Seriously how can this not make you laugh? Headphones that look like he should be on the tarmac doing ground control at JFK, rain boots in case the floods come, and a big goofy grin. Besides golf and his dogs, tending to the lawn may be his favorite pastime.


Icy cold drink on a hot day.


First cherries of the season.


Grilled corn on the cob.


This guy preparing said corn.


Grilled eats. Side note: these chicken sausages from Sam’s Club are amazing!


Bright flowers. Sometimes I feel like an old lady by how happy I can be just sitting on the deck looking at potted flowers.


A good book. Picked this up after one of Jenna’s book reviews and am loving it so far.


Back to the grind…

What’s something that made you happy this weekend?



Filed under Around the house, Family, Meals

Coconut roasted carrot salad


I’ve been on a bit of a coconut streak lately, adding unsweetened shredded coconut to my oats in the morning, roasting every possible vegetable in coconut oil instead of my usual olive oil, adding coconut butter to smoothies and the list goes on. So when Kelapo sent me a little jar of their coconut oil to try out I had no problem thinking of something to use it for. Since it’s Memorial Day weekend and pretty much everyone will be attending a BBQ at some point, I figured I’d make something that would be a nice side to all the grilled food. I hate when BBQ’s consist solely of meat, buns, and chips so I went with a vegetable but dressed it up a bit. Smile It was slightly warm in the house with the oven on in the 85 degree temps this afternoon but I’d say the outcome was worth it.

You’ll need about 2lbs of carrots for this. I only had about 1.5lbs of whole carrots so I stole a few baby ones from my hummus dip stash.



Wash and trim them. I hardly ever peel my carrots, just give them a good wash. You can peel them though if the outer layer ugliness bothers you. Since these were going to be roasted I figured no one would see the outer layer anyway. Slice the carrots on a diagonal in thin strips and place in a large bowl. Mince up a couple gloves of garlic next and grab about 1/4 cup of sliced almonds. Put both the minced garlic and the almonds into the bowl with the carrots.



Coconut oil wants to be solid. It will get slightly melted in the summertime but it’s never quite like other oils that are pourable (unless maybe your house isn’t air conditioned and gets pretty hot). For this recipe you need the oil to be completely liquid so you can pour it into the bowl with the carrots, garlic and almonds and stir to coat everything. I popped about 2 tablespoons into a small bowl and microwaved it for about 25 seconds, that’s all it needed to completely liquefy. When you  pour the now warm/hot oil over the colder carrots the oil might congeal a little. Don’t worry, once it goes into the oven everything will melt again.


Pour the carrot mixture onto a baking sheet, you don’t really need to grease it since the oil is coating the mixture already. Roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, mixing/flipping once or twice as they cook.

Use the 30 minutes the carrots are roasting to gather up the rest of the ingredients.



-apple cider vinegar



-dried cherries

-shredded coconut

-fresh mint leaves

I contemplated some more nuts/seeds but in the end left it simple with the almonds that were already in it. Not much prep work here. I just did a quick chiffonade with the mint and that was it.

Once the carrots are done take them out of the oven and let them rest a bit to cool down. Since we’re adding feta to the mixture you don’t want the hot carrots to melt the cheese. 15 minutes was about as much patience as I had.

Pour the carrot mixture back into the bowl and add all the other ingredients to it. Add some salt and pepper to taste and garnish with some mint leaves. I kept this at room temperature to serve because I didn’t want the oil to start to congeal from the cold fridge. Obviously, the leftovers are now in the fridge but I will probably warm them up in the microwave quickly before serving again.



The carrots did a great job absorbing the coconut oil flavor. It really stood out in the dish. I think the addition of the shredded coconut helped bring out the coconut oil flavor too. If you’re not a fan of mint I’d go with basil. I was torn between the two but I’m glad I chose the mint, I like the contrast of it with the honey and sweet cherries in this.


Coconut Roasted Carrot Salad

Makes 6 side dish servings

  • 2 lbs carrots
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1/4 unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey
  • handful of fresh mint leaves
  • salt/pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash, trim and peel carrots. Slice them diagonally into thin strips. Mince garlic. add garlic, almonds and carrots to a large bowl. Melt coconut oil and pour over carrot mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Combine well and pour onto baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, flipping/stirring a few times during baking. While carrots are roasting, chiffonade mint and add mint and all other ingredients to the same large bowl the carrots were in. When carrots are finished roasting, let cool for about 15-20 minutes. Once cool, add carrot mixture to bowl with other ingredients and stir well to combine. Season with salt & pepper again to taste and garnish with mint leaves.


What are you bringing to your Memorial Day BBQ?


Filed under Meals, Recipes, Side Dishes

Home sweet home

We got home Friday night just as the sun was setting only to see the jungle that our entire yard had become. It was raining the 5 days prior to us leaving for Ireland so we never got to mow the lawn or do anything outside. Fast forward 8 more days and the place looked like it had been abandoned!


I wish I had a ruler to illustrate how high the weeds grass actually was. Ginger has this thing with long grass and for some strange reason feels compelled to eat it. It happens on walks all the time but then she’s on a leash and I can pull her away. I didn’t really think of it when we let her out yesterday morning and she spent the next 20 minutes chomping her way around the yard. When she finally came in she wouldn’t eat her food and as I sat on the couch next to her I could hear her stomach making obscenely loud noises for a dog. 10 minutes later she was running to the door to be let out to then have a 15 minute puke fest from the ingested grass. Lovely. Thankfully, Ulysses mowed it before going to work so we didn’t have to deal with that the rest of the day.

After breakfast I spent the entire morning yesterday cleaning up these…


Those damn seed pods are everywhere! I definitely don’t remember this happening last year. The worst part is we just mulched around the entire yard and now all my pretty black mulch is covered with these things. It’s impossible to blow them off the mulch without blowing the mulch away too so I just gave up and instead cleaned the deck, porch, walkway and driveway.


Despite the “fun” morning, I’m definitely happy to be home for a few reasons…


1. A workout!

Yes, I ran inside yesterday even though it was gorgeous out. Since I wasn’t done with operation seed pod clean up until almost noon it was pretty hot out by then and I really wasn’t in the mood to fill up the camelbak. #lazy. The run wasn’t nearly as hard as I was expecting after 10 days off. I ended up doing 4 miles with some intervals.

  • Mile 1: warm up 6.2mph
  • Miles 2&3: alternating 1/4 miles of 7.2 & 6.2
  • Mile 4: cool down 6.2mph

Some abs and pushups later I felt much better about those 8 scones over the past week. Smile


2. Water

Oh how I missed my beloved Under Armour water bottle. This thing comes everywhere with me. I love the ounce markings on it so I can keep track of how much I’m drinking in a day. I usually drink somewhere between 70-100 ounces/day. That’s 3.5-5 of these. It’s not that water wasn’t available in Ireland, it was just inconvenient to drink that much when you’re constantly on the go because of the obvious side effects…needing to pee every 45 minutes or so. When you have to pay or buy something from a store to use a bathroom in most places in Europe it would have been annoying to drink my usual amount so I drastically cut back. I felt gross because of it too. I woke up parched every morning and I’m pretty sure it was a contributing factor to how blah I felt by the end of the trip body/health wise.



3. A packed fridge (and fruit bowl)

We actually went to one grocery store on our way home on Friday because I couldn’t bear the thought of having no produce upon waking up yesterday morning. Then yesterday I hit up the other grocery store for a few remaining essentials. Having so much produce that it doesn’t all fit in the drawer makes me happy. I think I went a little overboard though. Eating 85% carbs for 8 days will do that to you.

In produce alone I bought:



-salad greens







-Swiss chard

-sugar peas










We have a lot of eating to do!




4. Healthy food

Besides a yogurt bowl that escaped photography this morning, these were my eats for the day. A strawberry banana protein smoothie, a big salad with a bit of everything, and coconut crusted baked tofu with overcooked steamed broccoli and Trader Joe’s harvest grain blend. The tofu was a wing-it kind of thing and it came out amazing! Just mixed shredded unsweetened coconut with some bread crumbs, salt & pepper for the crust. Dipped the tofu slices in an egg + coconut oil + milk mixture and then rolled them in the crust mix. Baked for 20 minutes at 425. Really good! Might be my new fav tofu recipe.

And lastly,


5. Shorts & flip flops.

Ireland was cold. It made me happy to be able to wear these today. Smile

And to end with a little fun, while I was traipsing through the rain and wind in Ireland Tina @ Love, Sweat, and Beers nominated me for the “7 things about me” award. I actually found it pretty hard to come up with 7 things because most people reading this right now probably already know these about me so just as a disclaimer to friends and family you’re probably not going to find out anything earth shattering here, sorry.

7 things award

1. I have never wanted to have children and after almost 5 years of marriage we’re both still “eh” about it.  As everyone around us starts having a family though I wonder how our friendships might change if we are the only ones without kids.

2. I have a secret desire to go to culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in France. When we lived in Florida I actually applied at their Miami location, paid the application fee, got accepted and then never followed through. I wish I had realized this desire before starting a career, getting married, buying a house, etc.

3. I’m severely allergic to any animal with hair/fur and get allergy shots and take zyrtec & nasonex daily just to have Ginger.

4. I despised oatmeal as a kid. Now, I’d consider it one of my favorite foods.

5. I’ve worked at the same job since graduating college for the past 7 years and have changed positions 6 times. Some promotions, some lateral, and some backwards just for a change.

6. I bought a stick shift car without knowing how to drive it because I wanted to learn. It worked. It sometimes feels bad-ass to be able to drive stick. Especially, on the other side of the road, shifting with your left hand.

7. I have only thrown up once since I was 5. It was my 21st birthday and that’s a story for another day. I hate throwing up and will avoid it at all costs.

And now I’m passing this on to these ladies:

Hayley @ Oat Couture

Kim @ Book Worm Runs

Kate @ What Kate is Cooking

What’s something random about you?


Filed under Around the house, Dinner, Lunch, Meals, Running

Ireland Day 6 & 7: Killarney

A lot of our last 2 days in Ireland were spent in the car driving from site to site. We left Cork after one last meal at the English Market for Killarney, detouring around the Ring of Kerry. I’d love to say how beautiful the scenery was and how much we enjoyed it but the weather was unbelievably horrific. Freezing, rainy and incredibly windy. Like 50-55 mph gusts. We stopped a few times to get out and take in the views, snap a few pictures, etc. but we were forced back into the car pretty quickly.



When coordinating the trip we had initially planned to stay in Galway one night before leaving so we could see the Cliffs of Moher but, then decided to cut out another hotel stay because 4 hotels in 7 days seemed a bit much. We settled on staying in Killarney 2 nights instead. That decision made for a long day in the car on Thursday driving from Killarney to the Cliffs of Moher and back. We knew it would be a long day but figured the Cliffs are the most “iconic” site in Ireland and we’d regret not seeing them. They were amazing but I can’t even describe how windy it was! At one point coming down from the viewing area the winds were so strong I literally couldn’t stop myself from being pushed down the hill and Ulysses had to “catch” me before I fell over. Even though we never got hit with a hurricane when we lived in Florida I think I now know what it feels like! I really wish it had been a nice day out and not so cloudy and foggy because the views were incredible.P1013132


Besides castles and cliffs, the thing we saw the most of on our trip was COWS (and sheep). When you see thousands, literally, I guess you’re bound to see this too.


She was not happy. When we came back from the Cliffs she was actually laying down. Smart girl. This was right next to the parking lot.

After the drive back to Killarney we ended the day with some local sites including Ross Castle and the Gap of Dunloe. The latter being an awesome view only 10 minutes outside downtown Killarney. Pictures don’t do it justice. Pictures actually don’t do many of the places we saw justice.




All the sheep are spray painted either red or blue. Anyone know why?


We ended our last night appropriately.


With an Irish coffee.

Ireland stats:

Scones consumed: 8

Cows & sheep seen: thousands

Rainy days: 7

Favorite new saying: “Cheers, thanks a million!”

Favorite beer: Beamish (I found a stout I like!)

Car “incidents”: 2

Workouts/runs: 0

Pounds gained: ?? Don’t want to know Winking smile

Great trip all around but I’m definitely looking forward to this 3 day weekend at home with temps in the 80’s and 90’s!! And eating something other than carbs for a few meals.

Normal running and “kitchening” to resume now. Smile

Have any of you been to Ireland? What was your favorite part? We all couldn’t pick just one.


Filed under Travel

Doreen & the Blarney Castle tree

I hope this video comes across as funny to all you as it was to us. I showed some pictures of this tree at Blarney Castle a couple of posts ago but Adrian caught some footage of Doreen trying to get up on the branch for the picture that is too good not to share. In her defense, the branch does look much lower than it actually is (I tried getting up on it before she attempted) but Doreen just wouldn’t give up! This unfortunately is only the last couple of attempts, there were a few we didn’t catch on camera. Listen at the end to the (German?) lady offering to help Doreen because we were all just standing there laughing at her.

What you didn’t see at the end is Doreen slapping Adrian after her response to the woman because he was filming the whole thing instead of helping her. Priceless.


Filed under Family, Travel, Videos

Ireland Day 4 & 5: Cork and Kinsale

We spent all of Monday getting the local’s tour of Cork by Liam, an uncle of a friend who lives in the city. We even met the mayor. The Lord Mayor actually. Doesn’t he just sound way more important with “Lord” in front of the title? Liam knew pretty much everyone in Cork as we walked through the city, the mayor included because we had an 11am appointment to meet him! We definitely weren’t expecting that and probably would’ve been dressed a little nicer or at least prepared with some sort of semi-intelligent thing to discuss but, instead we sat there talking about his recent trip to NY with mayor Bloomberg for the St. Patrick’s Day parade and the Queen’s visit a couple of days prior. He also had the biggest beer belly I’ve ever seen and actually rested his hands on top of it much like a pregnant woman would. I found myself staring more than once and had to force my eyes away. It was a quick visit as I’d hope he has more important things to do than meet with 4 young lads from the states but it was fun to say we met him nonetheless.


The Lord Mayor’s room across from his office.


Liam taught us all about the old city and how it was surrounded by rivers and walls back in the day. We pretty much walked the entire city seeing the old walls, churches, the University and my absolute favorite, the English Market. It was kind of like a smaller scale La Boqueria for anyone that’s been to Barcelona. The best part of the tour was when he took us to where he was born and raised and showed us the river they used to swim in as kids. You could tell how emotional and nostalgic he was about his youth and even though all the buildings and history are interesting, I thought that was one of the more insightful things we learned all day.




The food in the market looked so good from the fresh seafood, to the butcher shops, to the produce stands. I wish we had a kitchen to cook it all in!


Adrian finally got his wish Monday night when we found a pretty legitimate Irish pub and drank our dinner. Smile 


Dark, dingy and everything a pub should be.

Tuesday morning we knew we wanted to hit up the English market for breakfast. After some fresh juice, scones, and coffee we were on our way to Kinsale, about 30 minutes south of Cork for the day. Kinsale seemed like the Irish version of a Rhode Island shore town. Quaint, beautiful water views and expensive.



We walked around the cute shops, tried on hats a la the Royal wedding and contemplated buying handmade woolen blankets, gloves and scarfs but eventually decided against them and their price tag (sorry Mom, it would’ve been for you).



After the shops we went to check out Charles Fort. More amazing views.



We ended the day at Café Paradiso back in Cork. Doreen and Adrian saw this show on Food Network a couple of weeks ago where Bobby Flay went to Ireland and highlighted a bunch of different restaurants throughout the country. We’ve basically been following in his footsteps since we got here. It started with fish and chips at Leo Burdocks, ice cream at Murphy’s, smoked fish at the English market, and finally dinner at Café Paradiso. It’s a vegetarian restaurant with a local sourcing flare that was insanely delicious.


They had a pretty reasonably priced “theater menu” that included 3 courses for 30 Euros. The wafer looking chips were a sunflower seed brittle with sea salt. A nice deviation from the usual bread basket starter.


First course starters of wild garlic gnocchi, mixed salad with green beans & fennel, and sweet potato curry spring rolls and brocolini.



Main dishes of beet root risotto with arugula & cannellini beans in a lemon thyme oil, feta pistachio couscous cake with a coriander yogurt, spiced eggplant gratin with fennel in a citrus cream sauce (or as Doreen referred to it: “sunshine sauce”). Adrian was a rebel and ordered off the main menu with the caramelized mushroom gnocchi dish. It was hands down the best one of the four and they were all really good, this one was just mind blowing. I’ve never tasted mushrooms like that before. They almost tasted like a roasted sweet potato, but even better. I could be a vegetarian in a second if all my meals were from here.



Vanilla ice cream with Italian cookies and a shot of espresso. Chocolate pecan brownie with white chocolate ice cream. There’s really nothing to say here, they were both as good, if not better than they look. Great, great dinner. It was actually the first “real” dinner we had on the trip and I’m glad we saved it for a place like this. It’s been a week now since I’ve run, my pants are getting tighter every day, and it’s been worth every single indulgence. Smile

Killarney, The Ring of Kerry, Dingle Peninsula, and Cliffs of Moher are up next!


Filed under Dinner, Meals, Restaurants, Travel

Ireland Day 3: Cashel & Blarney Stone

Hello from Cork! We’re staying in Cork for 3 nights and unfortunately there is no internet in our hotel (which is kind of sketchy). McDonalds, or as the Irish call it “Mack-Donalds” can always be trusted for some free wi-fi though. Sad world when you’re dependent on McDonalds huh?

We took advantage of the 2+ hour drive from Dublin to Cork to see some of the sights along the way including the Rock of Cashel and Blarney Castle. The Rock of Cashel sits atop a hill and looks gorgeous from afar. Of course the minute we arrived the skies opened up with a rain/windstorm which was seriously of  tropical storm strength. It. was. cold. It only lasted about 25 minutes though and then the skies cleared again. I guess one good thing about those winds is that they move the storm pretty quickly.



There will not be a single picture this entire trip where my hair isn’t blowing about like a crazy woman.


The best part about the Rock of Cashel was the view from where it sits. You can barely see it here but, it extends for miles and all you see is green. Green trees, green grass, green farms. Everything is sooo green. We keep joking that the plants here are on steroids. Even though the weather is pretty cold, the rain must do them wonders because they are just massive compared to the same plants in the states.



Please ignore the hair and ridiculous face but look at that view!

After Cashel, we headed back to the car and on our way to Blarney Castle. Surprisingly, we made it there without getting lost once. A little side note-there are NO street signs in Ireland. We were cheap and thought we didn’t need the GPS we’d make do with our print outs from google maps. Not a good idea. Hardly any street is labeled and if it is, it’s on the side of a building and so small you can’t read it until you’re past it. Combine that with driving on the other side of the road and shifting with your left hand and it makes for an interesting car ride.

We grabbed some lunch at a local pub in Blarney and then headed up to the castle.






Adrian and Doreen did indeed kiss the stone. It will come as no surprise to anyone that knows Ulysses that he didn’t. I just wasn’t down with it either. The guy that assists you was literally using a tissue to wipe off women’s lipstick on the stone from previous people. No thanks. I think it’s cooler to say “I’ve been to the Blarney stone and not kissed it” anyway. Winking smile


Adrian kissing the stone. I’d put Doreen’s in but the picture didn’t come out nearly as good and it’s mostly her chest. I think she’d appreciate it not being posted.

The castle and the grounds were absolutely gorgeous. I wish we had more time to walk around but it was already 4pm when we entered so after climbing through the castle there wasn’t much time left to explore the acres and acres of grounds before they closed.




How cool is that tree?


We spent today in the city of Cork. We actually had a local tour guide who is the uncle of a friend take us around. He was great! We walked the entire city for 6+ hours and he explained all the history and significance of many of the sights. While it’s fun to explore a city on your own you really do miss a lot of the actual history without someone knowledgeable to explain it all. We had a great time learning all about Cork’s history and following the steps of the Queen who was just here last week through many of the sights. It’s kind of funny to be visiting all these places in between the Queen’s visit and President Obama’s visit. It’s been all over the news here, in fact, we just watched his speech in Dublin take place at the exact site we were 2 days ago. This post is long enough for now though, so I’ll save our day in Cork for the next one.


Filed under Travel